Featured Image: Graphic and label papers from Billerud
By Gordon Kaye
SPONSORED BY BILLERUD
Confidence in the Classic Strengths
“You can observe a lot by watching.” So said Yogi Berra, whose baseball career and malaprops are having a revival due to a new documentary in theaters now. It pretty well describes my job as an editor — at least until AI and ChatGTP replace me which could well be soon. The phrase also captures the essence of our 60 year practice of polling the creative community in order to watch the fascinating, integral and evolving role that print and paper play in the service of graphic communications.
To (wildly) oversimplify the history of this thing of ours, we can discern three broad phases dating back to 1963. In the first phase, designers were often perceived (and self-perceived) as decorators and prettifiers rather than decisionmakers. Among the consequences of passivity: print and paper decisions were restricted by little product choice and dominance by printing and production experts.
In phase two, designers emerged as creative masters, strategists and thought-leaders known to add value and to shape commerce and culture. In this phase, control and responsibility for content and production flowed upstream to the creative community — making designers the center of all things print, and sparking a golden age of paper specification and creative print buying.
We are living now in phase three, in which designers are ever more recognized and celebrated for the value they bring to the table. But, of course, the rise of digital communications has broadened the media options and forced designers to recalibrate their relationship with print and paper. What we are witnessing in our past few polls is the nature of that evolution.
One thing has not changed over six decades: designers have always understood and appreciated the inherent qualities and capabilities of print to forge a human connection.
Thus, it is gratifying that our 2023 poll reveals a community more positive, confident and assertive about the classic strengths and continued relevance of print — even (or especially) in a digital era — than we have seen in recent times. Interestingly, this positivity is rooted in a realistic view of print’s current role and potential, rather than arising from some soft nostalgia for a bygone era. You can see it in the numbers and, more so, feel it in the hundreds of meaningful comments we received. As for us, we’ll be back at it next year, human or otherwise. Watching so that we may observe and likely still pillaging Yogisms for additional wisdom.